[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. The Pennsylvania Evening Post, Number 228. Philadelphia: Printed by Benjamin Towne, in Front-street, near the London Coffee-House, Saturday, July 6, 1776.
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[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. The Pennsylvania Evening Post, Number 228. Philadelphia: Printed by Benjamin Towne, in Front-street, near the London Coffee-House, Saturday, July 6, 1776.

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[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]. The Pennsylvania Evening Post, Number 228. Philadelphia: Printed by Benjamin Towne, in Front-street, near the London Coffee-House, Saturday, July 6, 1776.

4pp., 4o (9 1/8 x 7¾ in.), printed two columns to the page, paginated 335-338, masthead in large type at head of first page. The full text of the Declaration occupying two full columns on page 335 and two-thirds of a column on page 336, ending with the typographic signatures of John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Disbound, 6 tiny holes along margin where once sewn, irregularly trimmed at bottom with loss of 5 words at bottom of one column on p.337, otherwise in fine, original condition.

THE VERY RARE FIRST NEWSPAPER PRINTING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: TWO DAYS AFTER IT IS APPROVED BY CONGRESS

On the night of July 4-5, John Dunlap, printer to the Continental Congress, supervised as the text of the new Declaration of Independence was carefully set in type and printed. After being proof-read, a bundle of freshly printed broadsides were carried to the office of Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress, for dissemination. Congress had specified that the official text be transmitted "to the several assemblies, conventions and committee, or councils of safety," as well as "the several commanding officers of the continental troops; that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army," and "in such a mode, as that the people may be universally informed of it." As Pauline Maier observes, "public proclamation...was demanded both by the significance of the Declaration and by custom governing legal pronouncements." For that reason, the Declaration of Independence was publicly proclaimed in Philadelphia itself on July 8--two days after Towne's newspaper printing--in special ceremonies held at the State House yard, culminating in the removal of the King's arms from the State House, parades and volleys of musket fire.

But the many civilians and soldiers in Philadelphia who were not able to attend the formal proclamation, or who wanted to read the momentous news in advance of the ceremony, would of necessity have read the text first in the present unassuming four-page printing in Benjamin Towne's Pennsylvania Evening Post. Towne's paper was "issued every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings," and could be bought, probably at his premises, for the very reasonable price of "only two coppers."

The newspapers, were in fact, a very efficient and important means by which the Declaration was circulated to the general public in Phildelphia and throughout the new nation. According to Maier, Towne's edition was followed on 9th of July by a German version in the Pennsylvanischer Staatsbote, followed by newspapers in Baltimore (July 9 and 10), New York and Annapolis (July 11), New London, Hartford, and Norwich, Connecticut (July 12 and 15), Exeter, New Hampshire, and Salem, Massachusetts (July 16), and New Haven, Connecticut and Worchester, Massachusetts (July 17). Boston's Continental Journal printed the document on July 18, the day of its public reading there...Later the Declaration appeared in other Boston newspapers and those of towns and cities still further from Philadelphia."

A VERY RARE NEWSPAPER: no separate copy of this historic issue has been offered at auction since this example appeared in the Streeter sale in 1967 (although two copies in extensive runs of the paper were sold in 1995 and 2000).

Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, vol.2, pp.931-933); Pauline Maier, Declarations of Independence, Massachusetts Historical Society, p.7; Streeter sale 785 (probably its second printing, preceded only by its first printing in broadside form"); Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., ''The Declaration of Independence: Four 1776 Versions,'' 1976, II (illustrated); Michael Walsh, "Contemporary Broadside Editions of the Declaration of Independence," in Harvard Library Bulletin, 3 (1949), p.33 (note by Brigham).


Provenance: Thomas W. Streeter, from Goodspeeds, 1951 (sale, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, 19 April 1967, lot 785) -- The present owner.
Sale room notice
The complete text of the Declaration of Independence is present. The bottom edge of the sheet is trimmed slightly, just shaving 8 letters, as shown in the catalogue illustration.
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